For the last few weeks I’ve been playing with a set of Wyze bulbs I purchased for $29.99 (before shipping and tax), and can safely say they are a solid addition to the Wyze world. And if someone were asking me about smart bulbs, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them to buy these as an intro. The price is right. They work with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and IFTTT. Plus, they are tunable (going from cool daylight to warm, yellow light) and dimmable.
For now, they only come in a set of four bulbs, but I’ve paid $29.99 for a single tunable and dimmable bulb, so I don’t mind getting a few extras for the price of one. Today a tunable, white bulb from Philips Hue costs between $20 and $25 a bulb and requires a hub. So, the Wyze bulbs are cheap. But are they good?
The bulbs provide about 800 lumens, so they are a bit dimmer than the Philips Hue, although I didn’t notice. The dimming function was smooth, without any humming noises sometimes found on dimmable bulbs, and the color temperature ranges from 2700K to 6500K. Getting the bulbs online using iOS was a breeze while getting them online using an Android device took a few tries to get the Wi-Fi to connect. Unlike setting up my Wyze camera, which simply required scanning a QR code and some basic steps, getting the bulb online was slightly more challenging. To put the bulb into setup mode you have to turn it on and off three times in a row.
Still, for the average person, this is going to be an easy way to add a smart bulb to an existing lamp or in their ceiling. Combined with the $20 Wyze Sense package of sensors and the required $20 Wyze camera (the camera is needed to act as a hub for the sensors) you can start creating smart lighting automations with just a few caveats.
Let’s talk about those caveats. For now, these come in A19 bulbs only, which are standard-looking light bulbs. This won’t replace the can lights that are installed in millions of suburban ceilings. They also don’t work on a dimmer switch. They can only be dimmed form the app, which is a pain for me since I hate having to turn to my smartphone to control a light. I can dim them from the Alexa or Google Home, but that requires another layer of effort and integration, which I’m not sure mainstream consumers will do.
I’d love to see Wyze offer a physical controller that someone could keep on a bedside table or stick to a wall. My personal favorite is the IKEA Tradfri controller for its bulbs, although the Lutron Pico is also a nice remote. However, because the Wyze bulbs work with Wi-Fi, a controller would suck a lot of battery. The other option would be to use the proprietary protocol used by the Sense, but then someone would need the camera as the hub. So I can see why they chose to avoid the issue and rely on the app or voice control for now.
Speaking of the Sense devices, the motion detector and the contact sensors can both be used to trigger the Wyze bulbs. But the process currently isn’t easy to find in the app. To enable this feature, you select Edit Shortcuts from the menu on the home page of the app. Once there, you’ll select the bulb as the “action” and then hit “done.” That will bring you to a screen that offers the choice of turning on an automation. From there, you’ll select the desired sensor and then the trigger to control the action.
The result is almost instantaneous, which is what I’d expect from anything that is within the same local ecosystem. Using IFTTT takes a bit longer since it’s cloud-based service. But using IFTTT means you can use other sensors and products to trigger the lights. Again, though, that is for more advanced users, and while they will have fun with Wyze, the real promise is in introducing a host of mainstream consumers to smart home convenience.
For this, the bulbs currently could do better. Scheduling lights to turn on or off is not intuitive (again you have to use the Shortcuts function) and controlling them with sensors is tough. I’d also like to see a sunrise/sunset timing scheduling option.
A nice feature Wyze has implemented is a vacation feature that turns the bulbs on and off when you away from your home for an extended time. This is a switch in the app that is easy to find and can be toggled on and off. Wyze also allows you to group bulbs together, which is nice for me now that I have a home full of lamps and few overhead lights. If Wyze made schedules easier and brought in an optional accessory to control the bulbs with a physical device, this could become a nice way to entice people into the smart home.
Still, for the price, it’s hard not to recommend Wyze to any of my friends who are curious about the smart home and want to play around without spending an arm and leg. The bulbs fit that same pattern.